Category Archives: electonics



Be sure to buy from a reliable source, not just the cheapest lithium battery. I made the mistake of buying a ECO-WORTHY battery and charger and had constant problems – never worked right. They are sitting on the floor in my garage now.

Why Lithium Batteries Should Be In Your Boat

New Hope, Minn. – Many early adopters of lithium marine batteries have strong opinions. It’s true—a lot of the first products to hit the market were prone to failure, offered questionable performance, and were very expensive compared to lead acid, AGM, and gel cell alternatives.

Despite these growing pains, it seems the entire world has gone the way of lithium battery power. It’s all around us, from inside the computers and phones we rely on every day to medical devices implanted in the human body. Power tools, lawnmowers, snowblowers, generators, and anything you might have in the garage that once took fuel or AC/DC can now be efficiently and safely powered by lithium batteries.

With chemistries changing for the better over the past couple years, lithium batteries are not only being used in our homes, they are the backbone to many mission-critical industries—from medical devices to aerospace. And it looks like the marine electronics/boating markets are next…

If lithium batteries are so great, then why aren’t more anglers and boaters using them?

Many anglers—even guides and pros—have only a limited understanding of how lithium battery technology works and its many benefits. First, potential customers shy away from the price tag, having no idea that it’s actually more cost-effective to operate lithium in the long-run. Amortized over 10 to 12 years, the cost of running lithium is actually less than having to replace a boat’s lead acid battery banks every two to three years.

Another issue? A lot of anglers are still living in the past, and rigging their boats each season like they did ten years ago.

Problem is, power consumption on your typical fishing boat has drastically increased as fish-finder screens have grown larger, brighter, and like technological leaps in personal computing, now operate with faster but power-consuming processors.

Same goes for the progression we’ve experienced with trolling motors, electronic shallow-water anchors, forward-facing sonar, and other imaging technologies and their requisite power requirements. Not only do these technologies require a lot of power—they need a clean source of power with steady voltage for optimum screen resolution, brightness, and on-screen fish/structure imaging. Compare the imaging on a graph being powered with lithium versus lead acid; the difference in picture quality is very noticeable.

Yes, running today’s fishing electronics requires a lot of juice—and you better have it or you’re destined for compromised performance, short days on the water, and sad songs back at the dock.

Battery Types Explained

First, let’s walk through the three major types of marine batteries so we can compare the benefits of lithium to what’s traditionally been used for onboard, marine power.

12-volt marine batteries fall into three main categories: Starting (aka “cranking”) batteries, deep-cycle batteries, and dual-purpose batteries.

Hence the name, starting batteries are designed to start the main boat outboard; deep-cycle batteries are intended to power accessories, electronics, and trolling motors; and lastly, dual-purpose batteries will power both outboard engines and accessories/fishing electronics.

Marine starting batteries allow quick bursts of power via cold-cranking amps (CCA) to turn over an outboard; then, when the engine is running, they provide power for accessories, with battery power constantly replenished by the outboard’s alternator.

A starting battery does not work well in a deep cycle application because of the internal arrangement of the plates and its inherent design.

Deep-cycle batteries—as opposed to starting or “cranking” batteries—are designed to provide lower amp draws over a longer period of time to marine accessories like fishing electronics, trolling motors, livewell and bilge pumps, radios, etc.

*Note: Your outboard does not need to be running for deep-cycle batteries to do their job. They are not replenished in any way by an outboard’s alternator.

In terms of construction, a deep cycle battery has fewer bulky and thick lead plates than a lead acid starting battery. A starting battery has thinner plates but more of them. Operation-wise, starting batteries require ample surface area through which to release more current in a short amount of time—what is required when starting an outboard.

A dual-purpose battery has a mixture of both starter and deep cycle battery plates, and, as is true with most products intended to serve double-duty, the dual purpose battery makes a serviceable starting or deep cycle battery in a pinch but isn’t perfectly designed for either application. The attraction to some anglers to the dual-purpose battery is thinking that, if they need to start their outboard in a pinch, they could start their big motor with a dual-purpose battery that is primarily used to power accessories.

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead acid batteries are the marine standard and have been used by anglers for countless decades. Design-wise, lead acid batteries are composed of big, heavy lead plates that are surrounded by acid which is the medium through which the charge travels from one plate to the next.

Prior to AGM, gel cell, and lithium, lead acid was the only game in town. The drawbacks? Limited longevity/charge-discharge cycles, weight, and outdated technology for producing DC current. But the major drawback with your average lead acid battery is you can’t use it to its full capacity, something most anglers and boaters are completely unaware of.

While big, heavy lead acid batteries may give a boater or angler the impression they have a significant power supply, the reality is you can only utilize about 50% of the capacity before you start damaging a lead acid battery. Frequently discharge your lead acid battery beyond 50% of the capacity and the damage occurs rapidly–and the damage is permanent.

The result? Before long, if you’re fishing long and hard, you’ve got a battery that needs replacement. The average life of a lead acid battery for an angler who fishes long days is just under two years. Toward the end of its life, a lead acid battery is apt to only provide 5 or 6 hours of on-the-water runtime, which is unacceptable to most serious anglers.

Lead acid batteries’ power curve – how they discharge current – exhibits a huge voltage drop when you apply a load. The voltage will go from 13 volts into the low 12s, even with small loads, in a very short amount of time. Thus, the battery you started with at the beginning of the day is not the battery you end up utilizing in your boat by lunchtime.

Depending on how you use the lead acid battery—like if you’re powering lights—you’ll notice that the lights dim and aren’t as bright over time. You also see that a lot with trolling motors. As that voltage curve drops, the trolling motor power head and prop will start to slow down so the user experience—even fairly early in the day—is already starting to suffer. Fish-finder screen brightness and image clarity also diminishes as lead acid voltages drop.

Of course, the other big drawback to lead acid batteries is weight. Average marine lead acid batteries weigh between 50 and 65 pounds, while a comparable lithium battery weighs between 22 or 25 pounds.

Absorbed Glass Mat Battery (AGM) Batteries

AGM batteries are an improvement over standard lead acid batteries. They are non-spillable, maintenance-free, and feature separators made of fine fiber Boron-Silicate glass mats between the internal plates. Most AGMs are pretty hardy and will not leak acid if broken and feature a much longer lifespan. However, the lifespan is still only measured in hundreds of discharge cycles, much like a lead acid battery.

AGM batteries also feature low internal resistance so the battery doesn’t overheat even under heavy charge and discharge currents. An improvement over standard lead-acid batteries, AGMs offer a low self-discharge rate, which allows for storing the batteries without a maintainer or charger.

On the downside, AGM batteries are heavy—and they’re not “smart”—so if you’re not careful you can over-discharge and destroy an AGM battery and essentially discharge it to the point that it will not accept a charge of any kind no matter the charger used. It is simply dead and beyond resurrection and you’re off to the battery store to spend good money to replace another AGM battery rendered useless after being accidentally over-discharged.

Gel Cell Batteries

In terms of construction, gel cell batteries are an improvement over both standard lead acid and AGM batteries. Like it sounds, gel cell batteries feature an internal gel within the electrolyte that reduces movement inside the battery case, making its non-spillable design more suitable for vibrations-prone environments.

On the downside, gel cell batteries must be charged at a lower voltage than standard lead acid and AGM batteries. Many gel cells have been destroyed through charging at too high of a voltage with typical automotive-style garage chargers.

While AGM and gel cell marine batteries offer slight improvements over lead acid, there’s a jump in cost. An AGM of similar voltage and amperage of a comparable lead acid is double to triple the cost—and you still haven’t really solved many of the problems with lead acid batteries.

When you then compare the cost of AGM or gel cell to lithium the answer is pretty simple. Don’t make incremental steps in solving problems. Solve it right when you buy the boat. Start with a set of lithium batteries and you’ll find they probably outlast the life of your boat.

Why Lithium Batteries Make Sense

While trolling motors, fishing electronics, and outboards get all the press, it’s the quality and reliability of your boat’s batteries that make all the fun stuff happen on the water. Think that’s an exaggeration? How much fun is that shiny 250 horsepower outboard when you turn the key and, instead of being greeted by the growl of an outboard roaring to life, you are left with nothing but the disappointing “click” of a starter starved of the amps it needs to bring those 250 ponies to life? In that moment, the boat ramp or tournament weigh in has never felt further away, while your boat has never felt smaller due to those uncomfortable stares coming from your fishing partner.

And what role do quality, reliable lithium batteries play in making all the advancements in sonar technology possible? As all too many anglers have experienced after they’ve made the investment to upgrade their boat’s electronics, if you overlook how they’ll be powered on the water, you’re in for a very disappointing first trip putting all that fancy sonar to use.

Fact is: You cannot power three big graphs at full brightness all day with a lead acid battery and avoid the dreaded low-voltage alarms popping up time and time again on your sonar screens. Sorry, ain’t gonna work. Collectively, those big screens simply draw too many amps for even the largest lead acid battery to handle and, if you add in MEGA Live, LiveScope, or Active Target, you can tell your wife when you leave in the morning that you’ll be home for lunch and actually keep that promise, albeit reluctantly.

NORSK Lithium CMO, James Holst, remarks: “With our LifePO4 chemistry, we guarantee 80% percent capacity will remain after 4000 discharge cycles. You’d have to be a retired person who fishes every hour of every day for over a decade to get to those numbers. To get that out of lead acid batteries you’d be looking at replacing your batteries 8 to 10 times.”

“Who wants to spend that much money on a boat and fish-finders so you can fish for half a day? Personally, I want to control my experience completely on the water. Cutting yourself short by choosing subpar batteries as foundational power is ridiculous. After a lot of bad experiences on the water, a lot of anglers are waking up to that and moving to lithium.”

Holst continues: “I’ve used the same set of NORSK lithium batteries in my past four boats: two Skeeters, a Lowe jet boat, and now a Warrior 238, and they still pull like a tractor. I have not seen any reduction in capacity over this time. I fish long and hard days, deeply discharge my batteries, and there’s no chance I’d be able to say the same thing about a set of lead acid, AGM, or gel-cell batteries. I would have plowed through numerous sets in that span of time and had multiple days on the water ruined due to batteries that were no longer up to the task at hand.”

An additional and often overlooked advantage of lithium is the voltage discharge curve of a lithium battery is very flat, ensuring that your first 10% of discharge will be almost the same as the last 10% of the discharge cycle.

Why does this matter? A flat voltage discharge curve means the trolling motor head and blades will turn at the same speed at the end of the day that they did at the start of it, giving you the control and speed you expect from your expensive bow-mount trolling motor.

NORSK Lithium founder and Engineering Director, Derek A., interjects: “With lead acid batteries, as soon as the second and third year of operation you aren’t getting full utility out of your boat because your batteries are only running half as long as they did the year before.”

Derek continues: “It’s amazing how disabling but predictable lead acid batteries are. If you’re fishing like I do and constantly discharging them below 50% and recharging them back up, you probably need to change them annually. That adds up year after year. That’s precisely why I founded NORSK Lithium. As an angler, I knew there had to be something better. So I—along with a very knowledgeable team of other engineers and anglers—designed it.”

Gain Boat Speed

Given the decrease in weight from lead acid or AGM, anglers/boaters who have switched over to lithium batteries report an average boat speed increase in the neighborhood of 2 to 5 mph. Do we recommend you buy lithium batteries for a couple more MPH?  We conceded that likely shouldn’t be your primary motivation. But going fast is fun and, given all the other foundational benefits lithium batteries provide, who’s going to turn up their nose at being able to walk away from the competition at the next shotgun start?

Lithium: Lighter and More Compact

Lithium is also very light in comparison to lead acid, AGM, and gel cell batteries—what typically amounts to about 45% less weight than the similar size group size lead acid or AGM.

For example, a NORSK Lithium 100AH battery weighs approximately 25 pounds. A comparable battery would be a 31 series lead acid deep cycle that weighs approximately 60 pounds.

Lithium batteries often have a smaller footprint, too, which makes installation in a lot of boats easier. With NORSK’s new advances in starting/deep cycle lithium battery combinations, finding a spot in your boat for a fifth battery (frequently referred to as a “house” battery), is no longer required.

NORSK Lithium has done significant testing to design the ultimate starting/deep cycle lithium battery.

Company founder and Director of Engineering, Derek A., remarks: “We’ve figured out which cells can deliver that big, quick burst of energy in the shortest period of time to turn over very large outboard engines. We’ve also made sure the internal wiring as well as all the conductive cells can handle that current. Lithium batteries sold as starting batteries up to this point have had significant issues. If you don’t have the proper internal wiring to carry high current, that power surge can melt the terminals right off the top of the battery. It all comes down to managing the resistance, something we’ve been able to do with our new dual-purpose NORSK Lithium starting/deep cycle battery design.”

Holst interjects: “We took Mercury’s requirements for a starting battery—the specs that spelled out their stringent guidelines and warranty expectations—and used that as a starting point. We have the absolute best starting battery on the market in our 180Ah Starting + House battery and we added a lot of extra capacity to it so an angler struggling to find space for a “house” battery to power their sonar units doesn’t have to tear their boat apart and give up valuable storage space looking for room for yet another battery. Our 180Ah Starting + House battery performs both roles beautifully and frees up anglers to stop worrying about battery capacity and runtime and just focus on fishing!”

Holst continued: “With NORSK Lithium, anglers can uncomplicate things a bit and, in the case of a traditional 36V setup, pare down to three 12V batteries rigged in series for the 36V trolling motor set-up and one dedicated “Starting + House” battery for both your outboard engine and electronics. Our new design has plenty of capacity to run everything all day long. It meets and exceeds Mercury’s warranty requirements for starting batteries, offers up to 1200 cold cranking amps (CCA) and is going to last a long time—10 plus years, easy—or a minimum of 4000-plus discharge cycles. It’s a great solution. Solves two problems with one battery.”

Prismatic vs Cylindrical Cell Lithium Battery Design

NORSK Lithium is one of a few marine battery manufacturers offering a design consisting of prismatic vs cylindrical lithium cells.

What’s that mean?

“Cylindrical cell-based lithium batteries are made up of 80 to 100 cells, usually all spot-welded together—what amounts to a lot of components that could potentially fail,” says NORSK Lithium’s Derek A.

“We went the route of prismatic cells, which reduces the cell number from nearly 100 to four primary cells with large connection points, a whole lot less to potentially fail.”

Derek continues: “Obviously, anglers are attracted to the long warranties lithium battery companies are offering, which is a good thing, but what they’re ignoring is the actual battery construction—internal hardware and electronics that are continually subjected to a violent working environment of waves, water, wind, and cold/heat. Having too many small, weak parts is just a recipe for disaster. I saw this working in aerospace for nearly 20 years. All of the FAA-certified lithium batteries used in aerospace are prismatic cell-based for that same reason. The FAA has very harsh test requirements for vibration, and cylindrical assemblies tended to break down on the test table, whereas prismatic cell battery designs tested much better with fewer small, internal components.”

Buy Right The First Time

If you’re a buy-right-first kind of guy who gets only two years out of lead acid and is tired of dying batteries and fishing trips cut short, lithium batteries make complete sense.

The math is self-evident. For example, a standard lead acid battery costs around $200; quality AGM or gel cell batteries are priced between $300 and $500 each.

While lithium batteries are more expensive ($900-$1000 each), you can buy right, once, making the investment up-front to get batteries that are incredibly light, have a flat discharge curve that provides consistent voltage from sunrise to sunset, offer a lifespan measured in many thousands of cycles instead of hundreds, while offering advanced monitoring with Bluetooth-connected apps, like the advanced Norsk Guardian App, that allows an angler to set up the batteries in the boat in logical groups and monitor them all simultaneously from a smartphone.

Changing Technologies

What does the future of lithium hold? For starters, lithium technology will continue evolving, becoming even more powerful, efficient, faster-charging, and lightweight.

“It would be naive to believe that LifePO4 is the chemistry we’re going to stick with forever,” says NORSK Lithium’s Founder and Engineering Director, Derek A.

“There are other lithium battery chemistries not currently on the market that in testing beat LiFePO4 in every single way, they’re just not commercially ready yet, but they will be. And our marine battery case design is intended to accommodate these emerging technologies. Any NORSK Lithium technician can open one of our batteries and repair or replace every single part in minutes.”

Derek continues: “First, our easy-to-service case design was intended to allow our batteries to be serviced if a component fails over the 10 Year Warranty period. We’re not worried about the cells dying during the warranty, it’s the other parts like the BMS module and other little electronic parts that have some limited potential to go bad. If you can’t open the case (like we can) if a small component does fail your lithium battery might just be junk. Secondly, we anticipated the emergence of better cell technology in our case design so we could support upgrading customers in the future with the latest and greatest lithium chemistries.”


It’s an exciting time in history to be an angler. Lithium has become the de facto power source for ice anglers; open water is next.

As you read this, countless anglers are getting boats ready for the season or re-rigging based on springtime experiences already on-the-water. Many are focused on replacing lead acid batteries for a more reliable experience.

While that’s great, the burgeoning acceptance of lithium power is also allowing the entire sport of sport fishing to evolve. Prior to today’s lithium batteries there is no possible way you could have run multiple 12-, 13-, and 15-inch screens and forward-facing sonar/live imaging sonar with lead acid unless you created a multi-battery grouping of the large, heavy, and outdated power source. Given the space in most boats, there is no way you would have been able to house that much lead acid power.

Trolling motor design and functionality is starting to evolve, too. Not only is the trend toward brushless technology, we’re starting to see the first 48-volt trolling motors and standalone electric outboards powered by lithium batteries–a design paradigm that may just replace small two- and four-stroke outboards. For walleye and muskie anglers, higher voltage bow-mount trolling motors may just eliminate the need for a kicker outboard on the bow.

So, you can start to see all the advancements, both here today and just over the horizon made possible by lithium batteries. The future is bright… and it will be powered by advancements in lithium battery technology with NORSK Lithium leading the way.


When it’s time to start catching fish and taking names, you want NORSK Lithium on your side. We aren’t some overseas battery manufacturer. We are open-water anglers and ice fishermen who traverse the U.S. and Canada chasing the best bites. We make the bone-jarring 50-mile run across big water. We live for the adrenaline rush of a 40-mile trek by snowmobile in the freezing cold just to snag the best ice fishing hits. Our lithium batteries have been tested in the harshest conditions by the harshest critics – us. We push our lithium batteries to the limit because we crave the finest fishing experience possible. No angler should be thwarted by second-rate battery performance. You don’t need to settle for your grandpa’s technology. Utilizing the super-efficient, unbeatable potency of lithium technology, NORSK Lithium batteries reduce cheap knock-offs to fancy paperweights. Every NORSK Lithium battery is built to endure. Our batteries outwork the competition every time. Norsk Lithium powers your passion so you can chase adventure. We personally rely on these same batteries to power our pursuit of an exhilarating outdoor experience. Our commitment to you is the same promise we make to ourselves – we will never cut corners, we will never stop improving our battery technology – and we will always take care of our customers after the sale. Your story is our story. We have intentionally tethered our business’s success to our customers’ satisfaction. Including us. NORSK Lithium exists to power your passion for the great outdoors.


Jeff Gustafson Finds $300,000 of Bassmaster Classic Gold with MEGA Live Imaging

After a dominating event in 2021 which saw Humminbird and Minn Kota pro Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson secure his first Bassmaster Elite Series win, a return to the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, Tennessee was all the more rewarding for the Kenora, Ontario native. Through three days of intense competition and changing conditions, Gustafson saw light at the end of the tunnel on his Humminbird MEGA Live™ imaging and became the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic champion.

“To come back to the place where I was able to win an Elite Series event fishing how I like, and do virtually the same thing during the Bassmaster Classic, it feels awesome,” said Gustafson. “I fished how I was comfortable and I just jive with this body of water.”

Gussy started the event off strong with a limit weighing 18-pounds, 8-ounces on day one, following that up with a day two bag weighing 17-pounds, 3-ounces, and his final day effort going 42-pounds, 7-ounces to become the second ever international Bassmaster Classic champion – the first ever champion from Canada.

To find his fish, Gussy scanned through the Tennessee river using a deadly combination of Humminbird LakeMaster® mapping with Humminbird MEGA Side and Down Imaging® to locate areas where schools of smallmouth bass were suspended over deeper water. Once located, he targeted individual groups the same way he did in 2021, and picked off each bass using MEGA Live to seal the deal.

“When I won the Elite event here a couple years ago, I relied heavily on MEGA 360 Imaging and Humminbird 2D Sonar,” added Gustafson. ”Adding MEGA Live this week, I could still pick out rocks and other hard bottom areas on 360, but I could be much more efficient with my bait presentation and quickly learn how the fish were behaving – getting them to bite in real time.”

Dating back to his victory in 2021 to today, Gussy has now led seven straight days of Bassmaster events on the Tennessee River. Locating and presenting his bait to suspended smallmouth bass on creek channels; similar to how he fishes back home in Canada. Gussy caught his tournament-winning weight by keeping his bait just above the fish – which he was able to do accurately and clearly with Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging. Once he had his fish hooked, he was able to use Spot-Lock® on his Minn Kota Ultrex™ to keep his boat positioned on high-percentage areas allowing him to stay on top of the schools of fish he was targeting.

“Those first couple days, it looked easier than it was to get those suspended fish to bite,” he added. “Between catching short fish and the fish not committing to the bait, it was tough to catch five bass a day. It got tougher and tougher each day, and you could see how the pressure affected them on the final day.”

Day three proved tough for the championship Sunday field of anglers as Gussy’s fish became pressured and the legal sized smallmouth bass were harder to come by. One keeper smallmouth bass early in the morning got his day started but it wasn’t until after the mid-way point when he finally landed his second keeper. He knew that with MEGA Live Imaging on his Humminbird APEX™ unit, simply catching five keeper smallmouth bass would give him a chance to take the title.

While the last day was not what Gussy would have wanted, the two fish he brought back to the scales were just enough to secure his dream coming true: winning the Bassmaster Classic.

“This is unbelievable. I truly cannot describe what this means to me and to the folks that have supported me on my journey to get here,” said Gustafson. “It was a hard way to win this event; but we won, and we’re bringing this trophy up to Canada for the first time ever and that’s super special to be able to say. I have a lot of respect for the anglers I compete against, the anglers that came before me and the meaning behind winning the first Ray Scott Bassmaster Classic Trophy is indescribable.”

“This weekend was truly incredible and it could not have happened to a better person. You won’t find a single person in the industry that doesn’t love Gussy, and we couldn’t have more pride in him being on our team,” said Field Promotions Manager, Tim Price. “His character is one we model our team after and this win is much deserved. We’re excited to celebrate Gussy and his family in this win, and look forward to seeing what the future holds for him and his career.”

To learn more about Humminbird, click here.

To learn more about Minn Kota, click here.

About Johnson Outdoors

JOHNSON OUTDOORS FISHING is comprised of the Humminbird®, Minn Kota® and Cannon® brands. Humminbird is a leading global innovator and manufacturer of marine electronics products including fish finders, multifunction displays, autopilots, ice flashers, and premium cartography products. Minn Kota is the world’s leading manufacturer of electric trolling motors, as well as a complete line of shallow water anchors, battery chargers and marine accessories. Cannon is the leader in controlled-depth fishing and includes a full line of downrigger products and accessories.

Visit Humminbird at

Visit Minn Kota at

Visit Cannon at

JOHNSON OUTDOORS is a leading global outdoor recreation company that inspires more people to experience the awe of the great outdoors with innovative, top-quality products. The company designs, manufactures and markets a portfolio of winning, consumer-preferred brands across four categories: Watercraft, Fishing, Diving and Camping.

Visit Johnson Outdoors at

How To Catch Northern Pike Using Livetarget and Mustad


from The Fishing Wire

A Northern Pike Year-End Rally with LIVETARGET And Mustad

Big teeth, big appetite, big attitude — northern pike bring their A-game every time. Now, imagine that drama at close range, and you have the thrilling pursuit of stalking pike on foot. Indeed, wading for these apex predators presents a pulse-pounding version of a sport many know from the safety and security of a boat. However, for those willing to step into the water, a next-level experience awaits.

Mustad pro and tournament competitor Dennis BomBom Skou knows well this version of pike fishing, and his insight provides a blueprint for anglers anywhere pike roam. From Minnesota to Manitoba and all throughout Europe’s diverse tapestry of lakes and rivers, this adventurous approach to one of freshwater fishing’s most revered species won’t disappoint.


“When wading, you can fish in knee-deep water and even shallower, too,” Skou said. “I know it sounds crazy, but that’s where we (often) find the pike. Sometimes they are just sitting there in less than a foot deep water, close to the bank or on a shallow flat out in the open. Sometimes you’re in places where you can’t do that in a boat. Another thing I like about wade fishing is that you have a better chance of sneaking up on a pike. Wading is a more stealthy strategy.”

Skou also likes the spontaneity factor. No time-consuming boat or kayak prep; just grab the tackle bag, rod, and waders, and you’re on your way. “If you just have a couple of hours to fish, wading can be a perfect choice,” Skou said.


Ask Skou to describe his ideal pike habitat, and he details a location with at least a moderately firm bottom so he can wade without sinking. Starting on secure footing is essential, as wading is often a solitary venture.

“Something very important is the hardness of the bottom; I do not want it too muddy, as I would easily sink and become stuck there,” Skou said. “Sometimes, sinking one foot deep is not a problem, but if you’re out on your own, you should think twice before you do it. People can think differently about what’s okay and what’s not, but I never take chances. If the mud is too deep, you can sink in so much that you are completely stuck. This can be really bad if your waders take in water. A lot of this fishing occurs during the winter months, so getting wet and cold, puts you at serious risk of hypothermia.”

As far as bottom makeup, Skou calls his preference “leopard bottom.” Finding such promising areas requires pre-trip study.

“Before picking out my spot for the day, I go on Google maps to see if the area looks interesting,” Skou said. “This gives me a pretty good idea of the bottom composition, the weed or grass density, and water condition. I don’t want a sand desert down there, nor would I want the water to be too deep. I kind of look for a good mix of everything. Small open spots with sandy or muddy bottoms and spotted areas with weeds and grass – that’s my go-to area.”

Ultimately, Skou finds his best wading opportunities in areas where prey fish find enough cover in which to hide. When he finds a forage-rich spot, he knows he’ll also find predators lurking there.


The aggressive pike is always game for chasing moving bait and, for wading use, Skou said he does best with shallow running baits. One of his favorites is the LIVETARGET Erratic Shiner.

“This little spoon has great action and looks very much like the small baitfish that pike feed on,” Skou said. “The glow pearl has been one of my best colors. Besides the Erratic Shiner, I generally use smaller baits. The biggest are up to 18 cm.

Other productive wading baits include soft rubber swim baits rigged on Mustad Power Lock Plus Spring Keeper Hooks , a LIVETARGET Juvenile Pike Swimbait, a LIVETARGET Yellow Perch Crankbait, or a LIVETARGET Yellow Perch Jerkbait.

“Always cast close to the weeds, structure, and drop-offs,” Skou advises. “Keep an eye out for fish jumping and if you see a school of baitfish desperately breaking the surface, chances are that a pike is on the hunt! Cast to where you saw them and BAM! Fish on!”

Rod options generally come down to personal preference and the size of pike you’re targeting. However, a 7- to 8-foot, medium-fast Mustad Basscraft spinning rod fits this role well. Featuring an innovative blank construction with LCJ (Longitudinal Carbon Jacket) technology, the Basscraft design ensures a progressive tip curve, with up to 200% greater sensitivity and strength, compared to standard blank construction. For anglers fond of braided line, like TUF-LINE DOMIN8, this rod’s braid-friendly Fuji guides provide the requisite durability.

“I think I have a better reach with a spinning rod and reel than I do with (baitcasting gear),” Skou said. “For braid, I normally go with 0.18mm on a spinning reel and a bit more on a baitcaster.”


Skou offers a couple of insights from his pike experience.

What to Wear: Skou likes the comfort of breathable waders, which allow greater mobility than neoprene. However, for longer wading trips, it’s harder to stay warm in breathable fabric, so he’ll opt for neoprene’s heat-retaining advantage.

“For boots, I go for lightweights because I don’t want to walk around carrying too much unnecessary weight,” Skou said. “It’s hard enough to be walking all those kilometers with a heavy backpack full of pike lures. Also, I prefer wading boots with a felt sole for a better grip.

“Under my waders, I’m wearing marine wool and fleece. It’s always a gamble trying to pick the right number of layers for the day. It’s very easy to either get too cool or too warm. But during the cold season, it’s easier to predict how it’s going to go and what outfit to wear under your waders. I always have an extra layer on my lower body than I do on my upper body.”

Safety First: One of the most appealing elements of wade fishing for pike is the allure of pushing farther and farther to see what the next dozen steps might reveal. Skou understands this, but cautions anglers to maintain their awareness.

“Be careful not to go out too far, because if the tide suddenly becomes high, the water level can rise super-fast,” he said. “This can put you in a situation where you can’t get back to shore without a swim. You don’t want to swim in your waders, leaving behind all your gear.

“If you’re going out alone, or if your group is spread across a bigger area, you could consider wearing an inflatable life jacket. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, wearing a life jacket may turn out to be the best decision you ever made.”

Skou said a wading staff can be helpful in defining bottom conditions and choosing your steps wisely. If you’re wading in high weeds, that staff can help you locate holes, rocks or other tripping hazards before they become a problem.

Reference Points: Every productive trip offers something that can facilitate future success. Skou knows this and records key details from each of his wading excursions.

“For a better understanding of your water, keep a log of your trips,” he said. “In time, you will learn when you’ll have the best chances for a successful fishing trip. If you catch fish, take notice of water temperature, water level, tide stage, wind direction, and so on. You will be surprised how much of a help this can be.”

All of these points matter because they combine to create the opportunity to experience a truly spectacular moment. Wade fishing brings you closer to the action than anything you’ll experience from a boat and that’s a memory you don’t want to miss.

“It’s very addictive to fish for pike like that,” Skou said. “Standing in the water right next to them as you land, unhook, and release them to see them swim off — very cool!”

About Mustad

Mustad has led the global hook market since 1877. Mustad’s mission is to create a comprehensive multi-brand company that leads the fishing tackle industry, while focusing on innovation, employee and customer satisfaction, and sustainability. With the addition of TUF-LINE and LIVETARGET, Mustad continues to solidify its position as a complete sports fishing brand family.



from The Fishing Wire

Developments In the World of Fishing Sonar

The 2022 version of the open water fishing season was an interesting one on several levels. Some of the events/developments of the fishing season were good, some not so good. One of the developments that has really caught on in the past few months is the ongoing popularization of forward-facing sonar (FFS). First, a little bit of history regarding sonar.

My first exposure to fish-finders, depth-finders, sonar, fish locators, whatever they were called, was a Lowrance Green Box. It was an amazing experience for a young, curious angler. Instead of just seeing the surface of the lake, we could now see what was on the bottom of the lake. By today’s standards it was a very antiquated look at the bottom of the lake, but back then it was groundbreaking. We could see how deep the water was directly below the boat, we could see gradual and abrupt changes in the bottom structure, and we could see where the bottom changed from sand to mud. Every now and then we even saw what we thought might be a fish. Remarkably interesting times, and truly an era of learning more about fish and fishing. Some people were worried that with this new technology, fish populations would be in jeopardy. Due to the efforts of fishery managers, they weren’t.

Later, paper graphs hit the market. They drew an outstanding picture of the bottom of the lake and showed the history of the path of the boat. An angler could see what they were going over and what they had gone over. And you could definitively see if fish were in the area. But the paper had to be changed often, and when the wind was blowing or it was raining, that was an inconvenience. Paper graphs weren’t around for exceptionally long.

The next technology was liquid crystal graphs. The early versions of LCG’s were crude by today’s standards, but a huge improvement in what we were accustomed to using. No paper changing and exceptionally good displays. I recall a day on Rainy Lake when I was just learning about LCG units. We would see on the screen in water 20 feet deep what we thought was a fish, then we would catch a fish. Those really were the fish that we were seeing! Another very interesting time and era of learning more about fish and fishing. Some people were again worried about the impact of this new technology, and again, the fisheries people prevented over-harvest.

A few years later, side-imaging came into play. This technology enabled an angler to see what was going on off to the side of the boat. More learning and more interesting discoveries about what goes on in the fish’s world.

Most recently, forward facing sonar entered the picture. It has really impacted the fishing world. It shows what is in front of the boat, and when mounted to do so, will show what is all around the boat. Fishing guide and expert angler Mike Frisch says that he has learned more about fish and fishing while using FFS this past summer than he did in the previous 10 years combined. Mike has the transducer of his FFS unit mounted to a Rite-Hite Turret mount that enables him to scan all around the boat. The Rite-Hite Turret is a slick deal. He says that when he sees a group of bass to the side or in front of his boat, he can put an Ocho Worm exactly where it needs to be, and much of the time he can see how the bass reacts. If they look but don’t eat, he knows that a different presentation is needed. And the folks in charge of our fisheries will make sure that this new technology doesn’t negatively affect fish populations.

The wonderful thing about fishing is that we make it whatever we want to make it. Some enjoy the technology, others, like me and the young anglers that I take fishing, sometimes enjoy dipping a jig along a dock with a Lew’s Bream Buster rod: A long rod with no reel and 6 feet of line tied to the tip of the rod. Extremely basic but highly effective. However you like to fish, there is a way for you to enjoy doing so.

– Bob Jensen of

Do Sonar and Ice Fishing Work Together To Help You Catch Fish?


Sonar And Ice Fishing

By Bob Jensen

from The Fishing Wire

Most people who go fishing on the ice will agree that sonar enables them to catch more fish. Sonar will reveal fish that are down there, and it will show how the fish respond to the bait that you’re using. When I first started ice fishing forty-plus years ago, the use of sonar wasn’t popular, mostly because there weren’t a lot of sonar units available for ice fishing. When I finally got an ice unit, and when I got familiar with it, and it didn’t take long to get familiar with it, I realized that I had been missing a key component for ice fishing success. Following are some actual on-the-ice lessons that convinced me that sonar needs to be part of an ice angler’s tool kit.

One day several years ago I shared an icehouse with fishing pioneer Gary Roach. We were on Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota. The area that we were fishing had stained water, and our house was over about thirty feet of that stained water. Typically, walleyes prefer to hang near the bottom when the water is stained. We kept a close eye on our sonar units and caught some walleyes. It wasn’t fast, but it was okay. Every now and then, we would see a fish mark on the sonar about fifteen-feet down. Because walleyes usually hug the bottom in stained water, we ignored those marks, or at least I did. I assumed that the marks were a whitefish or something other than a walleye. Gary didn’t assume that. After seeing a couple of those high riding fish, Gary started pulling his spoon up to them. Gary likes to catch fish. Any fish. He figured that it was better to catch a whitefish than not catch a walleye. Come to find out, those marks were walleyes, and by pulling our baits up to them, we added significantly to our catch for the day. Without sonar, we would not have seen those fish, and without seeing them, we wouldn’t have caught them.

Some anglers like to tie a swivel into their line a foot or so above the bait. The swivel reduces line twist. On a sonar unit, you can see the swivel and the bait. At times, panfish will come up and nip at the swivel. We want them nipping at our bait, not the swivel. Again, I’ve seen this happen on the sonar. When we realize what’s happening, we can adjust. Maybe we need to go to another bait to get the fish’s attention, or maybe we just need to lift the bait we’re using up to the fish’s level. Again, without sonar, we wouldn’t realize what’s happening.

I’ve got a friend who spends a lot of time on the ice. He will admit that he spends too much time on the ice. However, he has become an expert at interpreting what the sonar is showing him. He genuinely believes, and I believe him, that by closely watching his sonar, he can see the waxworms, spikes, or whatever wiggling on his hook. When the wiggling slows down, it’s time to put on livelier bait.

He’s also convinced that he can see if his bait has fallen off the hook. Many times, I’ve heard him say that his bait fell off. When he reels it in, sure enough, the bait is gone.

I have another friend who started ice fishing just a couple of years ago. He was convinced that he didn’t need a sonar. Nonetheless, one day he asked to borrow mine. I had a Vexilar 12 that he took with him. This is a nice unit and does a decent job. It’s not the highest end sonar unit though. When my friend returned it at the end of the day, he wanted to know where he “could get one of those sonar things.” He quickly realized that sonar will indeed help an angler catch more fish through the ice.

Garmin Panoptix Review Update

 I continue to be amazed at what my Garmin Panoptix shows while I am fishing. The Panoptix Livescope has a transducer that sends out sonar pulses and receives them back from three different angles at the same time. It then combines and interprets the resulting “pings” from objects the pulse hits as lights on a screen.

    You can watch dots of lights indicating fish move on your screen. It shows how far from the boat they are, the angle they are at and how deep they are. Any stationary object shows as a solid light image that resembles the object. For example looking under a dock you can see the post, cross bars and any brush or fish under them.

    The size and shape of the image give you a good idea of the size and shape of the fish out there. There is no doubt what a long, thin  gar is when it is in the beam.  Crappie, bluegill, bass and hybrids show similar images, but their position relative to the bottom, way they move and how they are positioned to each other give you a good idea what they are.

    From what I have observed, a school of baitfish looks just like it does from above when near the surface. The small dots move and flash in sync with each other, and move around a lot without going anywhere.

Crappie usually hang in groups over or near cover like brush or pilings. You can see the individual fish as they slowly move within the school.

Hybrids stay up from the bottom, move around a lot and move fast. There are often a dozen or more fish in the school, and they are generally bigger than the crappie.

I target bass, and they can show up as different things. Often a single bright spot at the top of a brush pile or against a post under a dock is a bass. Sometimes a small school, six or so fish, move in unison, going up and down as they look for food.

We always thought bass moved in tight to cover when the water is muddy and are out from cover a little in clear water. I saw this proven the first couple of months I had my unit.

The first time I used it at Jackson, the water was clear and I saw what I was sure were bass suspended just over some brush I often fish. Another place with big rocks I could see the fish holding just above them and saw several stumps with fish on top of them, too.

A couple of weeks later a heavy rain had muddied the water. The same brush pile with fish just over it now had bright dots down in the brush. I know they were bass because I caught two by repeatedly casting a worm to the brush and slowly working it through the limbs.

The rock pile now showed bright dots right at the bottom tight to the rocks. Stumps showed the fish tight against them near the bottom.

The most worrisome thing was the fact I could see fish near the cover in clear water but they were slowly moving around like they were looking for something to eat.  But when my boat got within about 30 feet of them, they sank down into the cover and became inactive. I just knew the fish knew I was there and would not hit. Maybe they picked up sounds from my boat, a shadow from it or some other reason that spooked them.

At Martin last week I was fishing a point and saw five or six dots slowly moving just off the bottom. They would swim up a couple of feet then go back down as a group, like they were searching for food.

When I casts a shaky head worm to them, knowing the angle and how far to cast from the picture, I watched my bait start to sink toward them. As has happened dozens of times, one came up to meet my bait.

Time after time I have seen a fish do this, follow the bait to the bottom and never hit it. Usually the bait separates from the fish and the fish follows it down.

But this time was different. The bait did not continue to sink, the fish dot and bait dot stayed together. I realized the fish had hit it and tightened up my line and set the hook, landing a 13-inch keeper spot.

I like watching my crankbait run through the water. The unit lets me know exactly how deep it is running. And I can see fish follow it, but so far have not seen one eat it.

Topwater baits skim across the top of the screen. I can watch a Zara Spook twitch back and forth and see the wake produced by a Whopper Flopper.  And watch fish come up to them.

All this is very exciting but also very frustrating. I never realized how many fish are out there, they are everywhere. But getting them to hit is another story. Knowing a fish is sitting by a stump or in a brush pile will make me keep casting to it, sometimes wasting way too much time trying to make a fish eat that just will not.

But at times changing the size or color of a bait will make the fish hit. So at times it makes the difference between catching a fish and just blind casting.

Expensive electronics are not for everyone, and they definitely have good and bad points. But technology continues to improve, even if you don’t want to take advantage of it.

Should Forward Facing Electronics Be Banned?

All this bias trying to make others act and believe like you do bleeds over into fishing too often. I was in a “discussion” on social media last week with a person that said the new forward-facing electronics like my Garmin Panoptix should be banned. They said it was unfair making it too easy to catch fish.

That statement alone shows they have never been fishing in a boat with forward-facing electronics. More often than not you can see the fish but not make them bite. It is often very frustrating, but you can learn a lot about fish and their actions watching it.

I asked this person where would he end his ban of new technology? Just the forward-facing electronics he doesn’t have? Or extend it to side and down scan electronics that have been around over 20 years? He said yes, but admitted he did not have them, either.

Next I asked about other sonar back to the old flasher units like the one that came on my first bass boat in 1974. He said they were ok, since he used them. Apparently, it is ok and not too easy when you watch a sonar image move around directly under the boat on one of those old units, but not ok if you can do the same in front of the boat on new-fangled technology.

But why stop there. How about banning electric trolling motors? They definitely give the angler an edge, making it easier to catch fish than paddling around.

But there is more in this deal!! He really started going off the deep end when I asked if he would be willing to go back to fishing with no modern inventions. That would mean wading around catching fish with your hands – not even allowing spears.

He said that was ridiculous and I agreed. But he said he wanted to ban new technology that made it easier to catch fish. Everything we use now does that but he was not willing to admit he was just prejudice against those having things he did not have, or did not want to have.

As far as modern fishing inventions, I think the electric trolling motor is the best modern invention for fishing from a boat. And foot-controlled units are a huge step up.

I well remember growing up sculling old wooden boats around for my uncles so they could fish. And the joy when they let me make a few casts. But if alone, I had to paddle the boat to where I wanted to fish then try to position it, then pick up my rod and reel to make a cast.

Now I ease down the shoreline keeping the boat in perfect position without even thinking about it. My foot on the trolling motor pedal is well trained enough to keep the boat moving just right without thought.

I’m not sure any of it helps me catch fish, but it sure does make it easier and more fun!

I like fishing big lakes, there is a challenge to finding and catching fish that I enjoy, and I will use everything at my disposal to help. Big lakes are much tougher. To me there is a big difference between going to a private farm pond and landing a five-pound bass and catching one on a big lake, especially on a weekend day.

I have always wanted to catch a 12-pound largemouth but know I never will. It was almost possible back in the 1960s and 70 when I managed to catch several nine-pound bass from big lakes, but much less so now.

The only realistic way I could land one would be to go where they live, probably Florida, and fish big live shiners with a guide. But that would be the guide’s skill and knowledge, not mine, and I just have no desire to do that.

To each his own – just don’t try to force your “own” on others and I will do the same.

Side-Imaging for the Walleye Crowd

By Joel Nelson, Northland Fishing Tackle
from The Fishing Wire

Walleye-anglers are a traditional bunch in-general.  New techniques and technologies are directly compared to known commodities, and rightly so.  There’s no use making things more difficult than they need to be, yet sometimes along the way what’s learned is in and of itself valuable.  I find that to be especially true in the case of side-imaging electronics for walleye fishing.

So often, structural anglers are used to locating a spot of interest via high definition contours, then picking those locations apart with traditional down-sonar in an effort to locate fish, catch them, and store location (GPS) information in order to return to that spot someday down the road.  Lest we forget, at one time this technology was also new, though its adoption was rapid among the ranks of professionals and casual anglers alike.  Still, I’ve heard it mentioned in even upper echelons of walleye nerdery that side-imaging is only for “bass-guys.”

A staple among tournament bass anglers these days is side-imaging runs that map both structural elements, and individual fish to target.  At last year’s Bassmaster Angler-of-the-Year tournament on Mille Lacs, dozens of complete strangers to the fishery pulled 60lb. bags of smallmouth bass during the 3-day competition, most of them leaning heavily on using their side-imaging to locate large boulders and individual bass off them.  This very application, while being a classic use of the technology, is not a reason to classify it as a “bass-only” benefit.

Shallow water walleyes can be found throughout the warm-water months during big wind events, even in clear water.  That same clarity provides a solid reason to consider side-imaging on your next electronics purchase, as walleyes rarely tolerate overhead boat traffic in clear-water shallows.  The imaging becomes your eyes up shallow, allowing you to stay back off of the fish, and put a multitude of presentations to them without pushing them around and killing the bite.  Shallow fish are typically feeding, so these are the fish you’re looking to target anyway.

While side-imaging proves very valuable for any species relating to shallow structural elements, the same also holds over the depths.  It’s a common misconception that side-imaging isn’t useful at the same depths we’re typically targeting walleyes.  On a recent trip to Grand Rapids, MN, I used my Lowrance Carbon-12 to image an underwater point I’ve fished often, both during open-water and through the ice.  While I knew there was an 8-foot rock-pile along the shallow lip of it, I didn’t give credit to that rockpile and how it affected walleye movements out and away from it.  All of our bites came off the pile some distance in 14-18FOW, as fish staged there before dark awaiting the low-light evening assault on those shallow rocks.  Not surprisingly, immediately out from the pile was a hard-bottom, rock-free shelf.  It was noticeably different from the surrounding break, and drew the majority of those fish.  Once I knew what I was looking for, I could find it on the down-sonar, but it literally jumped out at me on the side-imaging.

An even deeper application can be found on the famed mud flats of Mille Lacs, where savy anglers for many years have known that not all parts of all flats are mud.  There is a surprising amount of rock and gravel in certain locations, though most are in small out of the way places along the edge of the flats.  With a good chop, and the resultant screen display of your sonar showing a “wavy” bottom, it’s difficult to detect the tell-tale signs of rough or un-even rock bottom.  These locations, being different from surrounding substrate for at times, miles, almost always have fish on them or nearby.

Perhaps the best way to introduce yourself to the technology is to image an area you already know, preferably if you know it holds fish.  So often as walleye anglers we stumble onto a mere piece of the puzzle.  We catch fish on one side of a reef for a short period of time in late afternoon, without realizing that we only intercepted fish in a 30 minute window making their way out of the depths and up to structure to feed.  Even if we know fish are likely to be up top and actively eating, we know not what locations have the largest boulders, the most pronounced feeding shelves, or what areas are too weed-choked to effectively fish in low-light.  All of those answers can be gleaned from a quick pass or two around the structure of interest.

Take this technology for a spin on a few locations you’ve fished for years, and be amazed at the depth and level of information it offers you.  Consider it the best real-time map that’s offered today, and get used to seeing and interpreting what information in the plan direction really means to your fishing, rather than just the profile depth direction we’re so used to seeing in the sonar of old.

See more like this at

Garmin Striker Cast GPS Review

Frank Sargeant, Editor
from the Fishing Wire

Garmin Striker Cast GPS—Castable Sonar For the many anglers around the country who fish from shore, piers or docks, it’s always a bit of a mystery how deep the water is within casting range, what structures are on the bottom, and where the fish are in relation to that structure. Without a sonar/GPS screen to tip you off, you’re fishing blind.

Garmin’s Striker Cast GPS puts fish-finding technology into the hands of these anglers, at a very affordable price. It provides quality sonar and GPS on any smart phone.The whole system is encased in a hard plastic housing about the size of a tennis ball. The unit turns on when it’s immersed in water, and links via Bluetooth to your smart-phone once you download the Striker Cast app. You attach the device to your fishing line, cast it out to the water you want to check and presto, a sonar screen appears on the phone.

The Striker Cast is about the size of a tennis ball. It can transmit to your phone from up to 200 feet away.

The device weighs about 3 ounces, so it’s not something you’re going to throw on your light action spinning rod. And it would be easy to pop your line and lose the Striker if you got a dead-stop backlash on a hard cast. I tied it on with 65 pound test Spider Wire braid on the heavy duty snap swivel, just to be sure—that braid will hoist a couple of concrete blocks, so it’s not going anywhere.
Here, a bass hanging over tree limbs on bottom at 8 feet shows clearly. Note the water temperature and depth digital readout on the upper left.

You don’t really cast the Striker—it’s more like lobbing a tennis ball, unless you put it on a 10-foot surf rod. I used a heavy action Shimano Sienna 7-footer and a 4000 size reel that would whip a kingfish, and it was about right.

Manipulating the rod, reel handle and your smart phone all at once is a challenge unless you have three hands. The way I worked it out was to hold the rod in my right hand, the phone in my left and also lightly hold the reel handle. I then rotated rod and reel to retrieve line—it sounds more difficult than it is once you’ve made a few casts.

As with any sonar, the faster the transducer moves, the more the terrain and fish below are compacted, while the slower things move the more they are stretched out. Thus, a foot-long bass going slow under a fixed transducer can look like a 40-pound pike. However, you quickly learn to adjust. The system automatically sets range and gain, or you can adjust both manually at the tap of a virtual scale.

Bottom shows red/yellow, water blue, fish and structure also red if large, yellow if small or scattered. The screen has digital depth and water temperature readouts on the upper left.

The unit also has a very accurate GPS system which allows you to map the area you are graphing. Walk all the way around your favorite pond, casting every 50 feet or so as you go, and it draws a chart of all the water you can reach, complete with depth profiles. You can name and save this, and you can also share it publicly. (I suspect that’s a function not many serious anglers will use!)

The chart was made by repeated casts with the Striker Cast. The opening at the center was where the author walked around a creek, so there’s no graph of that area.

The transducer is not like your boat floating over a fish, which usually flushes anything shallower than 10 feet in most lakes. Fish are not aware of it, and in fact I had a catfish come up and bump it apparently to see how it tasted. So, you can graph an area with a couple casts, spot fish, tie on a lure that gets to their appropriate depth, and hopefully connect.The Striker Cast would also be very useful for ice fishers—it’s compact, easy to carry, and would give you a quick read of what’s happening at each hole you open.

After saltwater use, you’ll want to rinse the connections thoroughly before hooking it up to the included USB charging wire—corrosion is not your friend. I wished the charging LED was a bit easier to see or had an alternate color when fully charged, but that’s a minor inconvenience. The battery lasts 10 hours with a full charge.

Here’s a useful video that teases out the many functions:

The Garmin Striker Cast GPS goes for about $180, and it’s sized about right for a stocking stuffer.

Check it out here:

Learning Fish Behavior from A Garmin Panoptix

I  have learned a lot from my Garmin Panoptix I installed last November.

This system is a sonar that shows a live picture of what is underwater on the screen, much like shining a spotlight at night shows what is in its beam.  And it shows movement as it happens, not as a line on the screen like older units.

One of my first surprises was how many fish are down there. I see schools of crappie and hybrids and clouds of baitfish suspended over deeper water this time of year.  And I can see fish moving along the bottom, probably catfish and carp.

Fish hovering around stumps, rocks and brush, or holding right on a drop off, are probably bass.

And there are lots of them. But seeing them does not mean they will hit my bait.

Time after time I see my bait move through them and they ignore it. Even worse is when I watch my jig fall on the cast or hop it and see a fish come up to it and follow it back down but never hit it. That does make me change colors, size and baits more often.

When I see fish in brush or on other cover, it makes me make more casts to it. The first tournament I used my Panoptix I saw what looked like fish in a brush pile in front of a dock. Normally i would hit a brush pile two or three times with a bait then move on. But seeing fish in that one made me make multiple casts and I caught a keeper on about my tenth cast!

I have always heard bass move tight to cover in muddy water.  In November and December, Jackson was very clear and I could see bass holding just over rocks and other cover, and they would slowly move around it. But after the rain Jackson muddied up and now I see bright dots indication bass right against the rocks or down in the brush.  And they don’t move, they just sit there.

I know a bait cast out and sinking will swing back toward the boat, and to get it to go straight to the bottom I “feed” line to it as it falls.  That is important when trying to get you bait to the bottom under docks and down to brush.Watching my bait swing back toward the boat as it falls amazes me.  A half ounce jig with a twin curly tail trailer cast on 14-pound fluorocarbon line makes an arch back toward me no matter how much line I feed to it.  It moves back toward me about a foot for every five it falls, so if I cast to a brush pile 20 feet deep I have to cast at least four feet past it to get my bait to hit it.

Another confirmation of fish behavior is the reaction of fish as my boat gets near them. Fish holding over rocks and brush will slowly sink down into it as my boat approaches. In clear water it is very noticeable. Bass over cover 20 feet deep started sinking down into it when my boat got within 30 feet of them.

I saw this happen many times when i moved in to try to jig a spoon or use drop shot. N ow, after seeing it happen, I will try to make very long casts in clear water!

I am just exploring lakes with my Panoptix and hope to learn a lot more in the coming months.